Better data sharing

Right now governments collect, hold and use a vast range of data, from weather patterns, to people going in and out of the country, through to the services that Australians access.

Governments use and share data to undertake research, develop programs and improve policies and services. While data sharing already happens, the current processes and protections are inconsistent which limits the potential of Australia’s data to create a better society for everyone.

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Recent improvements in technology have allowed greater data analysis capability and expanded the benefits that can be obtained from existing government datasets. As a nation, we expect world-leading digital services from our government.

To meet these expectations, we need to have another look at how we use and share data to make sure we are in step with a rapidly changing world, while strengthening data privacy and security protections. 

This is why new Data Availability and Transparency legislation is being developed. This new legislation, overseen by the National Data Commissioner, will look to provide an alternative pathway for government departments and agencies to share data in a consistent, safe and secure way. 

Maximising the benefits of public sector data

The new data sharing legislation will support our modern data-based society, drive innovation, stimulate economic growth and help maximise the value of and benefits arising from our public sector data:

  • You will benefit through having more convenient access to the information and services you need, without having to contact multiple areas of government to give them the same information.
  • Government will benefit through having the data needed to plan for the future and make key decisions, such as where to prioritise transport investment or fund health services that achieve the best outcomes for patients.
  • The country will benefit through greater access to public sector data to guide academics, scientists and innovators on how to make our economy, environment and society healthier into the future. 

The new legislation will enforce best-practice data privacy and security practices so your data is kept safe.

The data that governments collect plays a big part in making a better future for all Australians.

Read more about how data sharing and privacy will work under the new legislation.

Government data policy

Australia’s capacity to remain competitive in the modern, global economy relies on our ability to harness the power of data. The Public Data Policy Statement and the Open Government National Action Plans give the Australian Public Service the mandate and support to optimise the use and reuse of public sector data. 

Building on that mandate, in 2016 the Government commissioned the Productivity Commission to review data availability and use across the Australian economy. 

The Productivity Commission made a series of recommendations to unlock the value of data, including how public sector data is shared. The Government’s response to these recommendations committed to reforming the national data system to improve availability and use of public sector data. The reforms are underpinned by three key features: 

  • new legislation to improve use and reuse of public sector data and to strengthen data safeguards while modernising Australia’s regulatory framework
  • an independent National Data Commissioner mandated to drive change and support best practice data management and use across the Australian Public Service, including through the implementation and regulation of the new legislation
  • a new National Data Advisory Council advising the National Data Commissioner on ethical data use, community engagement and technical best practice, as well as industry and international developments. 

Together, these reforms will create a new regulatory framework governing data sharing and use designed to support a cultural shift within the Australian Public Service from a ‘need to know’ mindset to ‘responsibility to share’ when appropriate purposes and protections exist.